All posts by Tangie Holifield

Spinach Salad with Pears and Gorgonzola

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Pears with gorgonzola is  just one of those classic combinations. Put them in salad with any kind of greens. Pick what you like best, anything from a spicy arugula or watercress to a mild butter lettuce.We used fresh baby spinach.The same goes for the pears: Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou or Comice would all be great choices.

And since the ingredients in this pear salad are so delicious, a champagne vinaigrette with a hint of lemon juice and Dijon mustard worked best for this salad. A heavy dressing would mask the delicate flavors.  A sprinkling of cheese, walnuts and  pomegranate arils also adds flavors and makes for  delicious lighter first course to start off a meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoons minced shallot
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese*
1 medium Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced*
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils), for garnish
1/2 toasted walnuts, roughly chopped, for garnish

Champagne Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
For the Salad:
In a large bowl, add shallot,  salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, whisking constantly while drizzling the oil slowly. Add the spinach and toss with tongs until the leaves are well coated.

For Champagne Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl or glass jar, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil  and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, evenly divide spinach greens between 4 salad plates. Top each plate with cheese and garnish with pear slices, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts and serve with a drizzle of champagne vinaigrette.

*Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute Blue cheese or Roquefort cheese for the Gorgonzola.
Any variety of apple can also be used as a substitute for the pears.

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Pan Fried Quail with Bacon and Country Ham

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Quail are elegant and delightful little game birds that you never have to worry about being tough if you able to buy them fresh. And it is getting easier to find them in supermarkets and local butcher shops these days, although many are sold frozen. For the most part, quail are good to make for guests because they can “hold” in a pan for 15 to 20 minutes without drying out.

For this dish, white grape juice is used, which adds a tart flavor to the sauce and as an acid, it easily cuts through the fat of the ham and the bacon.

It is the perfect dish to serve with brunch with a side of grits.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leave
8 quail, spatchcocked
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 pound Virginia ham, cut into 1/4-inch julienne
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup white grape juice*
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Combine salt, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the birds with seasonings.

Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until it is foaming, barely browning. Add the quail skin side down. Sprinkle with ham and cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until skin is golden brown. Turn the birds over and continue to cook until the juices run clear, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and let the quail rest, covered for about 10 minutes.Arrange the quail on a serving platter and sprinkle with ham and bacon.

Pour the fat from the skillet, reserving two tablespoons. Add the grape juice and bring to the skillet to a boil. Cook for about 1 minute, scraping the brown bits from the bottom, to deglaze the skillet. Pour the sauce over the quail and garnish with  parsley if desired and serve.

Cook’s Note:
This dish calls for country ham which is salt cured, so be be VERY cautious with any additional that you add to the dish, while cooking.

*White cranberry juice, white wine or water are suitable substituted for  the white grape juice in this recipe.

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New Year, New Food Trends

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With the New Year settling in,  we are still mindful in 2018 of eating healthy and exploring global foods. As consumers, we are  constantly selecting better ingredients to improve our health and wellness and to make positive changes, as a lifestyle and not a resolution.

So, we have highlighted some of the top trending foods and spices for 2018 that you can find in your local grocery stores and supermarkets that you can incorporate into your daily diet for the coming year.

 

 

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Matcha :

If you never heard of matcha, the know that it is a finely ground, velvety powder made from nutrient rich green tea leaves. It has a variety of antioxidants and may increase metabolism and physical endurance.
How to use it: Add it to baked goods, like cupcakes or cookies or just stir a teaspoonful into a fruit smoothie or a stir into a glass of water. You can also combine with a good quality sea salt and sprinkle over popcorn.

Sorghum:

Domesticated from the continent of Africa over 8,000 years ago, sorghum is ancient whole grain that resembles Israeli couscous. Sorghum has a nutty flavor and can supply  fiber, potassium, iron and protein to your diet. And another bonus is that sorghum is gluten free.
How to use it: Sorghum grains can be prepared like brown rice, quinoa or other whole grains as a side dish. You can also use it as the base for sweet or savory grain bowls or you can try popping it just like whole kernel corn to make popcorn.

Hemp Seeds:

Hemp seeds can supply a high quality plant-based protein to you diet,with a healthy dose of fiber, iron, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids. For some people they have a taste that is similar to a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut.

How to use it: Sprinkle hemp seeds on salads or avocado toast for that extra crunch. You can also add them to smoothies, homemade granola bars, or even to veggie burgers. Hemp seeds is also an excellent substitute for pine nuts used in making a vegan pesto.

 

Beef Bone Broth:

For the record, bone broth is nothing new, but being rediscovered by chefs serving it in trendy restaurants. In Chinese medicine, whose origins date back over 2,500 years, bone broth is used to support digestive health, as a blood builder, and to strengthen the kidneys.  Cultures far and wide have nourished their families with bone broths and handmade stocks throughout history .Broth made from beef bones is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. The collagen in bone broth heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation.
How to use it: When herbs, spices and vegetables are added, a rich flavor develops and it can be simply warmed and sipped or used in other recipes as a base for soups or gravy and sauces.

Cauliflower:

 
An extremely versatile vegetable that has found it’s way in various healthy dishes, rather than being relegated to a boring accompaniment to the family meal. Like it’s relative, green broccoli, it supplies an impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals such as B6, C, K, folate and potassium as well as fiber and powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals as it comes in a variety of colors such are purple and yellow gold.
How to use it: Like magic, you can transform cauliflower into rice with a box grater or a food processor. You can even make cauliflower pizza crust or use it in a fried rice recipe. Cauliflower can also be used a substitute for potatoes, where the cauliflower is cooked and mashed. If you have large heads of cauliflower, always think about slicing them 3/4 inch thick and grill them like beef steaks for a meatless Monday meal.

Tumeric:

Turmeric is a plant that is native to Southeast Asia and in powdered form, it  has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems. As a spice, it adds an earthy flavor and brightness to almost any dish.
 
How to use it: Tumeric is best pared with spices and herbs that have complementary flavor profiles, such as cinnamon, ground black pepper and ginger. You can also use it as a natural coloring agent to enhance orange vegetables like pumpkin, squash,  sweet potatoes and carrots, just to  name a few.

Avocado Oil:

 Avocado oil is popping up as an ingredient in many healthy foods. Given it’s versatility, most people love it for its mild flavor in cooking and lack of scent in organic beauty products.

Because it is light and rich in flavor, low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, it has become a healthy alternative . Avocado oil is nutrient dense and is rich in vitamins A, K and D as well as potassium and antioxidants which are crucial in maintaining a healthy heart.

How to use it: In baking, you can substitute the butter for the avocado oil. You can also drizzle it over popcorn. Because it is so closely resembling olive oil, as a cooking oil, you can  use it to saute or fry vegetables.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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Calas: A New Orleans Tradition

 

It’s Mardi Gras, and down in New Orleans, the King Cakes, beignets and other gustatory delights are flowing freely. But if you prefer your culinary temptations with a side of history, allow me to introduce you to the calas, a Creole rice fritter with a storied past.

Never heard of a calas? Most people outside of New Orleans never heard of them either.

It’s basically a rice fritter. Calas are just one of the many rice dishes that actually made the journey during the Middle Passage across the Atlantic Ocean. Calas are made of leftover rice mixed into a sugary egg batter, then deep fried and served dusted with confectioner’s sugar. 

To  me, they are kind of like beignets, only better — with a more interesting backstory. Calas were once a vital part of African-American livelihood in the New Orleans, and even helped some slaves there buy their freedom. The cala became a very important part of New Orleans’ history.

Scholars think slaves from the rice-growing regions of Africa  who were brought to the Carolinas specifically to  grow rice.  And as slavery spread down to the Gulf Coast, calas  were eventually brought to Louisiana. Some culinary historians can trace calas to Ghana, others, to Liberia and Sierra Leone. If you were to go to Africa today, to Ghana or Liberia, you would find the women in the open-air markets making calas.

330px-Le_Code_Noir_1742_edition.jpgIn 1685, during the days of French rule, New Orleans was ruled by the Le Code Noir or the “Black Codes”, a decree originally passed by France’s King Louis XIV. The Code Noir defined the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire, restricted the activities of free Negroes, also known as free people of color,  and forbade the exercise of any religion other than Roman Catholicism, and expelled all Jews from France’s colonies.

The code has been described by Tyler Stovall as “one of the most extensive official documents on race, slavery, and freedom ever drawn up in Europe”.  The Code Noir resulted in a far higher percentage of blacks being free people of color during this period where the free color populations  was 13.2% in Louisiana compared to 0.8% in Mississippi. In by 21st Century standards, they were on average exceptionally literate and highly educated, sending their children abroad to study in some of Europe’s finest universities at the time.  Many were were doctors and lawyers, with a significant number of them owning businesses, properties and even slaves. Today, most people  are unaware that the free people of color were highly successful in the era of slavery. It was a very different climate in New Orleans than in the rest of the United States at the time.

In the Code Noir, it was stated that  all slaves were required calasby law to have at least one day a week off. The slaves’ day off usually was Sunday. Many of them would become street vendors. And so after church, African women would roam the streets of the French Quarter touting their wares with the chant, “Calas, calas! Belles calas tout chauds, madame, belles calas tout chauds!” — “Beautiful calas! Very hot!”

When the Spanish took control of Louisiana in the 1760s, they brought with them a powerful legal instrument, coartacion ,a specific type of manumission that pertained to slavery in the Hispanic Caribbean, through which slaves were allowed to purchase their freedom on a gradual basis. They were considered ‘free’ in exchange for compensation for the slave owner. In other words, coartacion  gave slaves the right to buy their freedom. For enslaved black women in the city, selling calas was a key way to earn money for these purchases. These women were able to buy freedom for their families and for themselves.

More than 1,400 New Orleans slaves bought their freedom under Spanish rule. But it’s not clear just how many did so with calas money.

African-American culinary historian Jessica B. Harris  has noted  in her writings that not all calas vendors were enslaved. And the ones who were  slaves often sold them for their mistresses. If they were lucky, they were allowed to keep a portion of the money, or perhaps have it go towards their freedom.

Americans ended the practice of coartacion soon after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. But New Orleans remained home to thousands of free blacks – and throughout the 1800s, many of them, especially women, made their living selling calas and other street foods.

In the 20th century, these vendors slowly disappeared, until, by 1940, according to an old Works Progress Administration report, just a single calas street merchant remained.

But indoors, calas “remained popular as a home treat” among African-Americans — especially during Mardi. Friends and neighbors prepared calas for their families and for the maskers who stopped by for a little ‘recess’ from their parading.

And the fritters did survive in at least one public eating space: The Old Coffeepot Restaurant, a French Quarter breakfast joint, where they’ve been on the menu for decades.

Waitress Gaynell James serves up calas cake from the kitchen at The Old Coffeepot Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Jan. 28, 2013.

Waitress Gaynell James Serves up calas from the kitchen at The Old Coffeepot Restaurant in the French Quarter. Gerald Herbert/AP 2013.

After chef Frank Brigsten purchased Charlie’s in 2009, he replaced hushpuppies on the menu at the longtime neighborhood seafood joint —a fixture in Harahan, outside New Orleans, since the 1950s—with a savory take on calas. They have gotten to be so  popular that the restaurant now serve shrimp calas as an appetizer.

 In recent years, calas have also made their way into a higher-profile tradition as well.2010-Calas-Lady-_vo
In 1990, New Orleans’ Haydel’s Bakery revived the old tradition of including miniature porcelain dolls in their Mardi Gras King Cakes.  The Original 1990 Frozen Charlotte Doll quickly became a collector’s item.  Since then,  Haydel’s has choosen a different porcelain figure  that celebrates one of the traditions of  the city’s beloved Mardi Gras heritage and bakes them  into  their famous King Cakes. In 2010, that figurine was in the shape of the iconic calas lady, her basket of “belle calas” balanced on her head —not forgotten. a symbol of a New Orleans long gone but, but still alive in the hearts of many.

And so the cala, a rice dish that is a part of New Orleans’ history, will be saved for future generations to come with this recipe that is presented below.

Makes About 2 Dozen

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked white rice
6 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3 heaping Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
5-6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Mix the rice with flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Add eggs and when thoroughly mixed, drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil , heated to 360 ° F. Fry until browned on both sides.

Using a spyder, remove the fritters from the oil and drain on baking sheet lined  with paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot with coffee or Cafe au Lait. 

 

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Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Prosciutto, Spinach, Apples and Apricot Preserves

pork.jpgServes 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 bunch baby spinach, washed and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-lb.) pork loin, trimmed
4 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto
1 Honey Crisp apple, cored and sliced into 1/8 inch
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup Japanese Panko Breadcrumbs
Pomegranate nibs, for garnish

Directions:
Saute the spinach in a hot skillet 3 minutes; plunge into an ice bath for 1 minute. Drain well. Wrap spinach in paper towels; squeeze dry. Chop spinach into small pieces. Place in bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; stir well.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cut into pork loin lengthwise from right to left, 3/4 inch from bottom, keeping knife parallel with cutting board; do not cut through the other side. Continue slicing lengthwise from right to left, unrolling loin as you slice, to form a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Season with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Arrange prosciutto in layers to cover inside of loin. Add apple slices. Spread the apricot preserves over the apples. Spread the spinach mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll pork up left to right. Tie with twine in butcher’s knots at 2-inch intervals.

Lightly dust the loin with flour. Roll in breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to make sure the crumb coating adheres.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Place loin in pan; cook 12 minutes turning until all sides are browned. Place loin on rack; cover loosely with foil. Roast at 325°F for 50 minutes or until meat registers 150°F. Remove pork from pan; let pork stand 20 minutes. Swirl butter into pan juices until butter melts. Cut pork into 3/4-inch slices garnish with nibs and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Click on this link for a quick tutorial on: “HOW TO CUT AND TIE A PORK LOIN FOR STUFFING”  

You can substitute the spinach for broccoli rabe seasoned for a change of pace.

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Orecchiette with Broccoli

Photo Credit: http://www.emikodavies.com

Orecchiette originates in the sunny southern province of Puglia, Italy, where the weather is warm and the crops plentiful. This pasta’s round, concave shape led to its name, which means “little ears” in Italian. The ridged exterior and cup-like interior captures chunky sauces and scoops up small vegetables, making orecchiette perfect to serve with sautés—sautés that begin, of course, with extra virgin olive oil, of which Puglia is the largest producer of in Italy.

This is a simple dish from Puglia in Southern Italy, traditionally always prepared with orecchiette and broccoli rabe. We prepared this dish using the more commonly found vegetable, broccoli. When buying broccoli, choose vegetables that have a uniform green color with no major brown or yellowing spots. The broccoli stem should feel firm and the crown should be tight and springy; soft stems or limp florets are a sign of old broccoli. Store broccoli in the crisper drawer in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Broccoli should keep fairly well for at least a week.

Orecchiette also makes a nice soupy pasta when cooked in the same water with potatoes and a big handful of arugula, and garnished with garlic and chili in olive oil. When you yell “Dinner!” your family and friends will be all ears.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli,  trimmed and cut into florets
1/4 cup water, or as needed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
A squeeze of fresh  lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta

Directions:
To blanch the broccoli: Prepare a bowl of ice water and have it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a heaping teaspoon of salt. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately in the ice water.If you would like softer vegetables, cook for an additional 30 secondss.

Saute the garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and a little water and cook,  stirring occasionally,  until the broccoli is bright green and soft, but still a little crunchy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of cheese. Stirring and cook until cheese is melted. Add a  squeeze of lemon juice and set it aside until the pasta is ready.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Add the pasta and 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to  the saucepan with the broccoli and toss until combined then serve immediately with a handful of grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.

 

Cook’s Notes:
Pecorino cheese can be substituted for the Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.

If fresh broccoli is not at hand, frozen broccoli that has been thawed and drained can be used in this dish. A 10 ounce bag will do.

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Quail in Rose Petal Sauce

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In   Laura Esquivel’s Novel,  Like Water for Chocolate, the reader is introduced to this recipe in Chapter 3, where the love sick character Tita, who is a cook, prepared an elaborate dish with a rose, a token of love, given to her secretly by her lover Pedro. She calls the dish “quail in rose petal sauce”. At the dinner table, the meal receives an ecstatic response from Tita’s family members, especially Pedro, who always compliments Tita’s cooking. However, a more curious affect is observed in Gertrudis, her younger sister, not long after eating the dish, who begins “to feel an intense heat pulsing through her limbs.” It appears that the meal serves as a powerful aphrodisiac for Gertrudis, arousing in her an insatiable desire. This turbulent emotion pulses through Gertrudis and on to Pedro. Tita herself goes through a sort of out-of-body experience. Throughout the dinner, Tita and Pedro stare at each other, entranced.

Dripping with rose-scented sweat, Gertrudis goes to the wooden shower stall in the backyard to cool off. Her body gives off so much heat that the wooden walls of the shower stall burst into flames—and so do her clothes.Running outside, the naked Gertudis is suddenly swooped up by one of Pancho Villa’s men, who charges into her backyard on horseback.

“Without slowing his gallop, so as not to waste a moment, he leaned over, put his arm around her waist, and lifted her onto the horse in front of him, face to face, and carried her away.”

The escape of Gertrudis serves as a foil to Tita’s stifled passion. The intensity of the former’s reaction to the meal serves to communicate the potency of the passion that the latter possesses but is unable to express directly. With her primary form of expression limited to food, Tita takes the illicit token of love from Pedro and returns the gift, transforming it into a meal filled with lust. The manner in which Gertrudis is affected by the food and later swept away on a galloping horse is clearly fantastical, and the vivid imagery like the the pink sweat and powerful aroma only exemplifies the novel’s magical realism.

To  be carried away so gallantly,  in a moment of passion………..is magic!

And with that being said, this would be the perfect dish to make for someone you love, especially for a romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy!

Updated February 2, 2018

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 quail (or 6 doves or 2 Cornish Hens)
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry sherry
6 peeled chestnuts (boiled, roasted, or canned)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red prickly pear fruit puree
(or substitute raspberries, red plums or pink dragonfruit)
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 teaspoons rosewater
Petals of 6 fresh, organic red roses, for garnish
Pepita seeds, for garnish

Directions:
Heat the serving platter in an oven set to low. Rinse the quail and pat dry. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and lightly brown the birds on all sides. Add sherry and salt and pepper to the quail. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn the quail, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the quail when done to your liking and place on a heated platter.

Combine the remaining ingredients with pan juices, transfer to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small pan and simmer 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, and/or honey. Pour the sauce over the quail on the heated platter.  Sprinkle with the rose petals and pepitas, for garnish, and serve hot.

Cook’s Notes:
The original recipe for this dish calls for rose petals, but you don’t want to use petals from conventional flower shop roses—those are treated with fungicides. Still, if you have some organically grown roses in your backyard, or know where to buy them, feel free to use them to garnish the finished dish.

If you cannot find any rose petals, 3 bags of  Tazo Passion Hibiscus Tea is a great alternative to use as well.

You can find rosewater at local Middle Eastern stores.

The original recipe calls for cactus. In this version red prickly pear fruit puree or juice is used and can be found at most health food stores—or substitute frozen raspberries or even use 2 large red plums that have been pitted and skinned, for the red prickly pear.

Another  substitution for the prickly pear would be  dragon fruit , which is closer in terms of the flavor given that both are cactus fruits.While you may not initially equate “cactus” with “edible,” the dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is indeed borne on a cactus. When the fruit is cut open, the flesh is revealed to be either snow-white or magenta pink and peppered with tiny, edible black seeds throughout — quite a contrast to the exterior.The flesh is mildly sweet, some say comparable to a melon. A source of calcium, fiber and vitamin C, the dragon fruit is widely cultivated throughout much of the tropics, particularly in Asia. Its popularity in tropical Asia combined with the dragon reference may lead us to believe it originated in Asia, but the fact is no one seems to agree on where it came from. We do however know it is in the cactus family (Cactaceae), and therefore almost sure to be of New World origin.

If you have a dove hunter in the family, try this with dove instead of quail. In fact, doves may be an even more romantic choice, if you don’t mind picking a little birdshot from your teeth. Cornish hens also work well, as a substitute for the protein in this dish.

 

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The Ultimate Super Bowl LII Party Menu

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If you are football fan and follower of the NFL, then you know it was 13 years ago when the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles first met in a Super Bowl. If you’ve been waiting ever since for the rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX,  then you are in luck.

The Patriots, of course, won 20-17 in that contest at the conclusion of the 2004 season, although the game wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. With the Lombardi Trophy again on the line, the Eagles and Patriots will square off beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 4, 2018 in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

But besides the game, it really is all about the food, just like for Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the other official and unofficial holidays where people gather to celebrate an occasion or two. Here is a roster full of the best menu selections each city has to offer and I am sure that your guest will be impressed.

Oh, one more thing, click on each food title to find out more about these iconic foods, it will be worth your time, trust me!

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Iconic New England Foods

With its fertile farmland, coastal waters, and flavorful influence from generations of immigrants, it’s no surprise that New England cuisine has a reputation for being seasonal, hearty, and comforting and here are just a few of the regional items you will find from Maine to Connecticut.

Boston Cream Pie

The original “pie in cake’s clothing,” this beloved combination of golden sponge cake, pastry cream, and chocolate ganache is so popular in New England you can even find it in doughnut form. Serving them in mini form is perfect for a party.

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Cape Cod Chips

Kettle-cooked and extra crunchy, Cape Cod potato chips have been a Cape Cod (and beyond) favorite since 1980. Did you know their logo is a woodcut of Nauset Light in Eastham, MA?cape-cod-lynne-e1489459193573.jpeg

Clam Chowdah (Chowder)clam chowder.jpg

It doesn’t get much more New England than this. A warm bowl filled with fresh clams, butter, milk or cream, potatoes, maybe some onions or celery, common crackers to thicken it up… is anyone else suddenly feeling hungry? Fish chowder is pretty good, too.

Cold Lobster Roll with Mayo

More common in northern New England, this roll typically comes in a buttered and toasted top-split New England hot dog roll, but the lobster meat is cold and lightly dressed with mayonnaise. Variations include a bed of shredded lettuce, diced celery, and dusting of paprika.

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Fried Clam Bellies

“Go belly or go home!” is the cry of the passionate fried clam belly fan. A summertime favorite made with whole-belly soft-shell clams, lightly battered and deep-fried to sweet, golden perfection. Often served at seaside shacks with a side of tartar sauce.

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New Haven Pizza

For many, no visit to New Haven, Connecticut  is complete without a stop at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Sally’s Apizza, or both! Sometimes, New Haven coal-fired pizza (known locally as apizza) is the reason for the whole trip.

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Del’s Lemonade

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Frozen lemonade never tasted so good – a true Rhode Island classic.

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We think Maine’s favorite soda tastes like a subtle, not-too-sweet blend of wintergreen and licorice, but others…well…they toss around words like medicine, motor oil, and “root beer that’s gone really funky.” A true carbonated Maine classic since 1884.

Iconic Philadelphia Foods

And on the other side of the menu, everyone knows what you’re supposed to eat in Philly. Pick a cheesesteak or hoagie (or both), stop for some water ice, buy a soft pretzel. But save room, because there’s way more to Philly’s food scene.

Bassetts Ice Cream

Although ice cream as a form of frozen dessert that has been around since ancient Egypt and has been served in the United States since the 1700s,  a fifth-generation family business and a Philadelphia tradition since 1861, Bassetts Ice Cream Company is a full-service frozen dessert distributor, offering outstanding products and superior service.And this is as good as it gets.

Cannoli  from Termini Bros.

South Philly is rightly known for its picture-perfect family-run Italian bakeries, spilling over with sweets like torrone, lobster tails, and (when the season is right) zeppoli. So while, sure, good cannoli can be found in a number of other cities, the one at nearly-century-old Termini Bros. is both definitive and integral to the Philly experience.

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The Cheesesteak

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The cheesesteak, the quintessential  sandwich of Philadelphia, is traditionally made with sliced beef and melted cheese on an Italian roll. In the 1930s, the phenomenon as a steak sandwich began when hot dog vendor brothers Pat Olivieri and Harry Olivieri put grilled beef on a hot dog bun and gave it to a taxi driver. Later, after Pat and Harry had started selling the sandwich on Italian rolls, the cheesesteak was affixed in the local culture when one of their cooks put melted cheese on the sandwich. Originally, the cheese was melted in a separate container to accommodate their large clientele who followed kosher rules (thereby not mixing dairy and meat). Today, cheese choices in Philadelphia eateries are virtually limited to American, Provolone, or Cheez Whiz. The latter is especially popular in those places that prominently carry it.

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The hoagie is another sandwich that is said to have been invented in Philadelphia, undoubtedly of origin in Italian-American cuisine. It has been asserted that Italians working at the World War I era shipyard in Philadelphia, known as Hog Island where emergency shipping was produced for the war effort, introduced the sandwich, by putting various sliced meats, cheeses, and lettuce between two slices of Italian bread. This became known as the “Hog Island” sandwich; hence, the “hoagie”. Declared the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992, the hoagie is a sandwich made of meat and cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on an Italian roll.

Roast Pork Sandwich at DiNic’s

Yeah, yeah, Philly is known for cheesesteaks. But locals know a little secret: Get the roast pork instead. And there’s nowhere better to start than at DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal Market. The family-run business — with roots in South Philly — rubs its pork with Italian herbs and spices before roasting it for five hours. It gets sliced thin, topped with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe, and piled onto a Sarcone’s roll. No wonder it was named the Best Sandwich in America by the Travel Channel.

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Philly’s got square pizzas and fried pizzas and tomato pies and stombolis, but there are few who can make a regular pizza like Tacconelli’s. Extra-saucy, bubbly all around, charred in all the right places, and chewy like it ought to be, the Tacconelli’s pie is one-of-a-kind — and a hot commodity at that. Ordering a pie might mean reserving the dough in advance, but it’s that sort of forethought that makes one a true pro when eating out in Philly.

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Snapper Soup, a thick brown turtle soup served with sherry, is a Philadelphia delicacy, generally found in area bars and seafood restaurants. In many places, it is served with oyster crackers (such as OTC Crackers, OTC being an abbreviation for “Original Trenton Cracker”) and horseradish. This hearty soup which once defined this city is made of the unusual combination of turtle meat, veggies, herbs, spices, hard-boiled egg, and sherry. And there was a while (over 140 years) where there was one name synonymous with the soup: Bookbinder’s. So when Jose Garces reopened Bookbinder’s as The Olde Bar, he made sure to bring back its namesake item, and he did so with a modernized version.

 

 

 

Hires Root Beer

Although soda is not purely associated with Philadelphia, Hires Root Beer was created by an entrepreneurial pharmacist named Charles E. Hires, who discovered a delicious herbal tea made of roots, berries and herbs while on his honeymoon. Hires continued to experiment with his original recipe and introduced Hires Root Beer at the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Hires wasn’t the only product introduced at the Centennial Exposition. Other notable inventions such as Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, the Remington typewriter and Heinz Ketchup made their debut too. Over the years, other brands that rose to popularity as Hires Root Beer also include Franks Beverages’  which is a unique Black Cherry Wishniak or Vanilla Cream, and Levis Champ Cherry.

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Winter Fruit Spotlight: Pears

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During the winter, nutrient-rich fresh pears reach their seasonal prime late January through February. While they are a treat to eat on their own, pears, with their perfect colors and unique texture, can give a sweet flavor to a variety of dishes. When you select your pears, make sure to check the “neck”, when mean to apply gently pressure to the next of the pear with your thumb. If the flesh of the neck yields to pressure, then it is ripe. Always store unripe pears at room temperature to ripen fully.

Anjou

Flavor Profile: The most abundant pear in the United States. Anjou Pears are short anjou red and greennecked and come in green and red varieties. They are incredible juicy and have a firm texture with a flavor that is sweet and citrusy.

In the Kitchen: Anjou pears are excellent for light snacking. They are also great for baking, poaching or roasting. Add Anjou pears to a salad, or cheese plate or even to a meat entree that has chick or pork as it main dish for a bit of variety in your weekly diet.

Asian
asian pear

Flavor Profile: Shaped like an apple, Asian pears are known for their creamy flesh, crunchy texture and melon like flavor.

In the Kitchen: Asian pears are best eaten raw or diced in salads or julienned and added to slaws. You can juice Asian pears into a morning juice blend or puree into a sauce or dressing that can be used as marinade for chicken and pork.

Bosc

Flavor Profile: Bosc Pears are sweet juicy and aromatic and have elongated neck with abosc distinctive brown skin.

In the Kitchen: Bosc pears are prized by chefs and home cooks alike because they can hold the shape beautifully when cooked, making them the best choice for grilling, poaching or baking. Gorgonzola cheese and chopped walnuts are the best pairing for this variety of pair when adding in other ingredients.

Bartlett

Flavor Profile: Bartlett pears is the most commonly found pear in most grocery stores and supermarkets. What makes the Bartlett pear unique is that is bright4409-03ens as they ripen which does not happen for most pear varieties. When fully rip, Bartlett pears are green, crunchy, juicy, sweet and slightly buttery.

In the Kitchen: When the slightest of heat is applied, Bartlett pears tend to loose their shape immediately, which makes them great for baking. They can be used in pies, tarts, quick breads, preserves, syrups or chutney with relative ease.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Vegetable Medley

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Photo Credit: Cooktop Cove, 2016

I absolutely L-O-V-E Brussels sprouts!

Most people do not and the lovely little vegetable has a bad reputation for being the least tasty among pick eaters. But I have found that when you find the right way to cook them they are actually incredibly delicious!

Traditionally Brussels sprouts have been boiled, since time in memorial and crispy-balsamic-brussels-sprouts-2this method of cooking diminishes their flavor, making them soggy and without texture. So I roast mine instead and this method of cooking totally elevates the lowly sprout to new heights. Yes! Roasting them gives the sprouts a delicious crispy texture and an awesome flavor. They are a very savory vegetable though, which is why in this recipe they were paired with red apples to give them with a little sweetness and baby Yukon Gold potatoes so that you have a wonderful range of flavors with each fork full.

This recipe is just in time for during the winter doldrums!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in half*
2 Red Delicious apples, medium diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced into a paste
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, small diced
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1½ teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Drizzle of olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2 cup cashews, roasted and roughly chopped, for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400º F.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except, parsley and cashews.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the Brussels sprouts mixture on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are browned in spots and the other vegetables are tender and crispy around the edges.

Remove the Brussels sprouts from oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish the vegetables with a sprinkling of parsley and cashews, if desired and serve immediately.

 

Cook’s Notes:
*You can use any full sized potatoes that you desire, just cut them into a medium sized diced.

 

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